The final instalment (for now) of Optimum’s 60s Beat Classics series is a film in name only – essentially Pop Gear is just one long music show.
Hosted by Djing legend and all-round strange bloke Jimmy Savile (the first man to DJ with two decks too if I remember correctly), it’s a music showcase from 1964 and 1965, bookended by two live (and edited) performances by The Beatles, who chip in with She Loves You and Twist and Shout to the usual gaggle of screaming teens.
The rest is not dissimilar to an early Top Of The Pops, with bands of the day introduced by Jimmy, plus some cringeworthy dance troupe performances thrown in for good measure (and probably to make up the minutes). But as this was a cinema production rather than TV, it’s not grainy black and white footage – big and bold colour is the order of the day. Which means Jimmy’s hair in all its yellow glory.
There’s one problem though – time hasn’t been too kind to these stars of ’65. There were some decent bands around at the time (The Kinks, The Who and The Rolling Stones spring to mind), but they’re not here. Instead, we get a steady procession of ‘nearly’ bands in matching dodgy suits and practiced dance steps miming to their next big chart hit in front of some ever-changing scenery, but always the same stage.
And some of the bands are pretty poor – Sounds Incorporated and Tommy Quickly and the Remo Four would have you reaching for the fast forward in seconds. But there is the occasional gem on here – some cool footage of the Spencer Davis Group, The Animals are also on here as are the Nashville Teens doing Tobacco Road. But sadly, for every one of those, there’s four also-rans.
But that criticism is only applicable if your musical taste is similar to mine. For a fan of early British beat who don’t mind the odd ballad from the era, it’s likely to be 67 minutes of solid entertainment. Both the sound and picture have been restored for the digital age, you get 23 tracks (plus the two Beatles clips) and you get some silly sixties dancing. Plus the occasional bit of wisdom from Sir Jim.
If this is your kind of music, it’s worth a shot. If not, one to pass up.